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Preparing your child for Primary 1

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Making the move to Primary 1 can be a huge leap for your child, even if his kindergarten has done a good job of encouraging and developing his independence.

But the transition doesn’t have to be a stressful one, for either parent or child. “Preparation for Primary 1 does not require a major effort,” says mother-of-one Emily, who blogs about her parenting journey at http://ourlittlesmarties.com. “In fact, the simpler and more relaxed the process is, the easier and more relaxed it will be for your child.”

The best way, she advises, to help your child learn the skills he will need to flourish in primary school is by offering him the chance to practise those skills at home. “The preparation process happens more naturally through the everyday experiences that we give to our children,” she advises.

Get used to the new rules
Children are expected to function more independently in primary school than in kindergarten. They’ll be expected to follow a timetable, organise their own school bag, ask for permission (before doing things such as going to the toilet) and actually going to the toilet on their own (and coming back to the right classroom).

All this can be modelled and practised through your daily activities. Let your child learn to do things on his own. Implement a home timetable to get your child used to following a schedule. Try role playing – practise raising a hand before asking a question, or try learning a few useful phrases.

Jumpstart their learning
If your family doesn’t speak much mother tongue at home, chances are Primary 1 might come as a bit of a shock. Helping your child gain confidence in speaking and understanding her mother tongue can help ease the transition to primary school.

It will also really pay off if your child can already read and write before starting primary school – if he is still struggling with his alphabet or numbers, it might be a good idea to think about some extra tuition or enrichment before he starts school.

Encourage resilience
Still, there’s no way to fully prepare your child for primary school, no crystal ball to predict where your child might hit a rough patch. The biggest skill you can put in your child’s emotional tool box is the capacity for coping with adversity.

A resilient child has the self-confidence to admit when he’s struggling, and the persistence to keep trying. This article touches on ways in which you can help your child become more resilient – the key takeaway is to try to normalise failure and to teach problem-solving skills. After all, as we’ve said before, failure can actually be good for your child.

Above all, the most important thing is to pay attention to your child so you can support him in the ways that he needs the most. Trust your instincts as a parent – you alone know your child best!

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